Sign up for the the Swing90x waiting list!
Dax & Sarah’s new program is a 3 month adventure combining RhythmJuice’s learning environment with coaching, feedback and guidance. We will also feature our new lesson series, the Total Swing Experience, which contains our most recent ideas, exercises and technique for Swing Dancing.
The idea is simple. Each week you are assigned core tasks that must be completed. In addition to core tasks you are encouraged to work on bonus tasks which explore different areas the dance and culture. Those who complete core tasks continue and those who fail get booted out. Our program is recommend for people who are serious about making a change in their dancing and are willing to do more then just talk about it. We will be straight forward, this is going to be hard work. Our program is not about homogenizing dancers. It is about helping you unlock the ability to make choices that more clearly represent what you want your dancing to be. Space is limited so if you are interested read on, otherwise keep swinging!
90 day transformation programs have been proven, in many fields of self improvement, to show dramatic results. We will give you the feedback and information necessary to make a change. In addition, you will not be alone. Our program enforces team work, partnerships and international collaboration which are crucial elements that have contributed to the success of all great dancers.
Our Goals for You:
- improve body movement, rhythm and physical ability
- learn to communicate body movement clearly while partnering
- improve mental understanding of dance technique
- improve physical understanding of dance technique
- increase creativity and idea flow
- refine personal style
- improve teamwork within partnerships
- improve teamwork within local workgroups
- increase knowledge of jazz dance history, swing music and culture
- have a kick-awesome time and strive to be proud of our own accomplishments
Goals for Dax & Sarah:
- develop and fine tune our program
- get measurable real results and testimonials on the effectiveness of the program
- experiment with the effectiveness of RhythmJuice’s learning tools
- contribute to raising the level of social dancing
- contribute to making swing dancers more respectable in the eyes of non swing dancers.
Reality Check #1 – Learn to Learn
Every top level dancer did something that the rest didn’t. The learned how to help themselves. Whether it was with their own ideas or the the knowledge they acquired from others, they took their dancing into their own hands and put in the hours needed to make the change. You can talk about your goals, but if you don’t practice, it will never physically manifest.
Reality Check #2 – Practice
Practice is the most powerful concept for personal development. Practice helps you develop a habit, and because the best dancing is unlocked when you stop thinking and start feeling, you need to develop the habits that support the dancing you desire. However, many people don’t practice, they just go dancing. Practice is doing with intent to acquire proficiency in something. Moreover, practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect and blue practice makes blue. (No Manu, “blue” doesn’t mean shit.) This means you become better at the “thing” you practice and perfection doesn’t necessarily need to be ones goal. For example, the dancer who spends a lot of time talking about dancing, will probably get really good at talking about dancing.
Reality Check #3 – No Excuses
You can do seriously do this. Swing is one of the only dance styles where greatness has never been defined by a specific body type or personality. Self doubt and laziness are the only two excuses you have left. What to do, how to do it, and when to do it are decided by us. How to fix it and how to improve can be left to our weekly feedback. I have no money? The cost is only $0.88 cents a day for a 3 month RJ premium membership dude and if you are in the the Trial Program, the guidance part is free.
Reality Check #4 – Space is Limited
Space is limited and there are some requirements that you must meet.
Requirements for participation:
Dance Partner : There will be a lot of partner work required so you must have a fully committed dance partner for the full 90days.
Creating a Local Work Group: We recommend creating a local work group of around 2-4 couples. Working in small teams is great for inspiration and motivation. It will also allow for you to take part in the bonus tasks that require a team.
High Speed Internet: You need a fast connection that can handle video upload and streaming.
RhythmJuice Premium Subscription: We will be using RhythmJuice lessons as the primary foundation for the content and feedback system. We recommend the 3 month subscription which offers a discount over the monthly subscription.
Video Camera: You will be required to film your dancing on a weekly basis to complete tasks. We recommend an HD smartphone or something convenient that can upload to youtube with the touch of one button. Otherwise anything that takes video and allows you to upload it to youtube will work.
Practice Space: You will need a good space to practice. Something with enough room and wood floor. It should also be a place that you feel comfortable and can work without distractions.
Men, we will be doing a lot of work in hard leather shoes. You will need a pair of heeled leather sole shoes. We recommend Stacy Adams Madison or Remix’s New Men’s Captoe (http://www.stacyadams.com/shop/styles/mensShoes/classic/page0.html) as a model. Anything dress shoe can work, just get the rubber heel replaced at your local cobbler. Ask for a full leather heel for dancing. Try some second hand stores where you can usually find shoes for under $20.
Ladies, we will be doing some work in both flats and heels. Unless there is a genuine health issue you may have with wearing heels get a pair. We recommend a shoe like Remix’s Deco (http://remixvintageshoes.com/deco.html). Don’t feel pressured to spend a lot of money on your shoes. There are an example. Anything with a leather sole and a small rubber heel. Try some second hand stores where you can usually find shoes for under $20.
- Film a short video and tell us 1) why you would like to do the Swing90x challenge and 2) a little about you goals, 3) your experience with swing and 4) if you have any experience taking our classes or if this will be your first time. Then film about 1-2 minutes of your social dancing to your favorite song. (This must be a new clip, in your practice space. Not some old clip that someone took that one day and uploaded.) Try to make your video less then 2 minutes. We will be doing a lot of filming in this program and if you can’t produce a video with your partner, in your practice space or are uncomfortable doing this, then this program will probably not work for you.
- Upload your video to youtube (set as unlisted if you wish), and submit this link in your application. If you don’t have a youtube account, then sign up. http://www.youtube.com. We will be using youtube to share videos.
- Fill out the application. We will consider people in the order they apply and the Application process will be opened starting Saturday, March 10 12:00pm PST. You can however view the form to see the information we are seeking before then just don’t apply until the date or it will be disregarded. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dEltSVpGN2JJVjIxejZhLVFSQ2N1bHc6MQ
- Sign Up for a RhythmJuice Free account. Go to http://www.rhythmjuice.com and click the Join Now Button. Get Familiar with the site. We will be using a group to manage this.
What type of things are we going to be learning? The core content will be lesson’s from our new series titled the Total Swing Experience. All these lessons will have a lesson challenge where you will be required to film yourself doing the lesson material and submit the video for basic feedback and RJ Points. We will also include exercises, solo jazz routines, bonus material and other lessons to mix it up. We are planning things to boost creativity and create a more personal style. We will ask you to complete tasks that won’t necessarily have a lesson on RJ. Stuff like break down an old video clip and try the movements. Choreograph a small section of music. We might add bonus fashion tasks where men learn how to tie a bow tie, dress better or get a gentleman’s haircut and women attempt a vintage hair-do and get fully dolled up. We are going to experiment with things that cover the full spectrum of the dance and culture. We might include written tests, name that song and musician, name that old clip, who’s this dancer etc. It is going to be fully very diverse but heavily focused on the dancing.
What are the actual dates of the Trial Program? We are going to try to start about 2 weeks after the application opens depending on sign ups and processing applications.
Is this program an actual live dance class somewhere or all online? This program will be completely online so you can do it from anywhere. You just need a decent internet connection. However, we are going to consider creating a series of special workshops for people who make it though the program.
What happens if I don’t make it into the program for the trial round? Once we finish the trial, we will price it and offer it with limited places based on our time availability. Eventually we even have other teachers come from the program and be able to supervise their own so that more people will be able to take advantage of it over time.
How many hours per week are you looking for from the dancers? We are going to set it up so you can do a minium of about 4 hours of physical practice, but if you want better results you can do up to something like 7-8 hours or more. Depending on your learning speed though, this may change.
How many RJ memberships are needed for the workgroup or partnership? Each individual person needs their own RJ membership. They will be getting their feedback through this and get points for their lesson challenges that go towards their lesson status.
What about conflicts? Will there be flexibility to work around schedules and time to make up work? We can work around schedule conflicts. We can not work around laziness and excuses. We will ask that people let us know ahead that they have a conflict.
What level is this targeted towards? We are targeting this towards enthusiasts with some dance experience. We think that a work group should have mixed levels to make for the best representation of the social dance floor. Having the mixed group will give you opportunities to learn more and see how effective your lead/follow is while working with less experienced dancers. We want to see what the program can do for beginners as much as advanced dancers and there will be options to be challenged on all levels. With our material, we don’t have beginner variations and advanced variations as much as we have beginner ways to do a things and advanced ways to do things.
Should my partner and I be at a similar level? We recommend the levels be consistent within the partnerships, but not necessarily the work group. We don’t want teacher-student relationship within partnerships. We want equality and respect.
Can we share a lead or follow and work in a partnership of 3? Sharing partners… This is possible as well if absolutely necessary. Maximum 3 people. I will update the application to allow for this. When submitting your challenge videos, you can all 3 people. We will explain how to do this in the tutorial videos for the program.
What if I can’t wear leather for personal Reasons? You will need shoes that slide. We can work around vegetarian issues, but not whining such as, “I am not comfortable dancing in slick shoes and I want to use my sneakers”.
Sarah and I are extremely excited about working with people who are eager to improve and do the type of work that most dancers are just to lazy to do. If you feel like you are ready for this type of program, we look forward to working with you to make a real difference.
If you have any questions post them below!
MSJF was a blast! It was amazing spending time with fellow Ninjammerz and with the entertaining Sonny Allen. During one of his speeches he went off on a little tangent. In it he said something along the lines of, “You know how a negative plus a negative equals a positive? Well, when you get one bad dancer dancing with another bad dancer, you get a GOOOOD dance!” I can’t exactly quote him but that is what I remember.
Even though it took me a few minutes to get where he was going, I loved this statement! Dax and I preach a lot about matching; about dancing WITH your partner. I can’t help but think of what Dax usually says about drunken wedding couples; two people who have no idea what they are doing on the dance floor but they are doing it together. You can easily watch them all night. Then I think about the times I see two swing dancers on the floor…one a beginner and one the more advanced. It’s sad when it appears that the advanced dancer is taking things too seriously (I’m guessing out of frustration or boredom), and as a consequence, I see the beginner looking a little stressed from the pressure. I also rarely get a chance to witness people drastically changing the way they dance to match their partner, stylistically or technically.
At what point do we get so good that we become unwilling to temporarily sacrifice what we have built for ourselves in the name of swing dancing? Let me explain more. Think of a follower in your head that is pretty advanced. Think about her style of dancing (we all have a distinct way we like to dance). Now start putting her with different style leads. Does she change her style to match her lead or does she generally look the same? I can’t honestly think of a follower who chooses extreme change. I’m very often caught doing the same thing. It’s hard when something feels so good to you and your leader is asking you to go to a place that you don’t think you’ll like or that might look stupid.
So with that thought, ask the question, “why do you like social dancing?”. One of my top reasons why I love to social dance (and why I love to be a follower) is that every dance and every leader is different. I find it an exciting challenge to feel these differences; and understand in those few minutes the way they hear the music; chose to move their bodies; and technically view leading. I believe in going beyond appreciating that to wanting to experience it for myself. I try to join my leader’s party even if it sometimes means throwing a lot of what I believe in out the window.
I can’t tell you how many times I have a dance with a beginner student and I see pictures or a video later that I think, “OMG I was doing that?” Sometimes the pictures capture me in the most funny and akward positions but what I remember at those moments is that it was so much FREAKIN FUN! I felt like I was in a totally different body. One that wasn’t mine but just as fabulous. And that is why sometimes I like dancing with the beginners more than the higher level dancers. It’s often that the higher level dancers try to show me how much technique and variations they know. Beginners don’t have much technique or moves under their belt so the only way they know how to impress me is by dancing their hardest.
If you lead me technique and fancy moves; I will follow with technique and discipline. If you DANCE with me; I will DANCE with you
Both approaches are great and function well depending on the circumstance. There is room and a need in the swing world for everything. I just am not sure people have put much importance on learning to have the ability and willingness to do it all.
What I really like about dancing with pro leaders is how I get to go beyond matching my leader. For example, if I am dancing with JUAN (and sadly, this doesn’t happen very often). I love the idea of trying to dance as if I was a female version of him. Then I love to imagine how I would dance if I was Sharon dancing with him and for those few minutes I try to find the magic that I imagine he has with her. Then of course, I get to appreciate the way I move my body. Most people talk about “styling” as an ability to change their body movement within the lead or follow (for example replacing the rock step body movement with a kick ball change body movement). I view styling more as a way of changing the style of one body movement. I try to style by exploring how many different ways I can rock step.
Here is a video from the Ninjammerz jam at MSJF. There are a few times you see me change my body somewhat drastically. There is a part in the first solo we do of the slow section where Dax decides to do some in-and-out movement extremely loose and wiggly. We make our students do this a lot and I can’t help but feel like Gumby when I do this but it’s a great challenge because it makes you find extreme looseness and relaxation. Boy does it look silly but fun! Then towards the end of the video I dance with Thomas. He is one of my favorites to dance with when I’m trying to explore things. First of all, his rhythms and body movements are insane, I can barely keep up. Second, I love Alice’s dancing and I sometimes try to think about how she would react to Thomas.
Here is part two. At around 3:05 Dax and I do a solo. Check out how I drastically change my body movement styling. This time, they were my choices to dance different and not so much about how I was being affected by my partner. The first few eight counts I was trying to dance really smooth and tighter. At that time, I wanted to make it look like I was floating or ice skating (not that that necessarily happened. lol). Then as we started to swing out and I felt the music building; I decided that wasn’t enough for me so I imagined the end of the clip Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers Radio City Revels 1938 where the little girl is dancing with the large man, swiveling extremely low. I do one swingout attempting to do the same. I haven’t gotten them down but their getting there! The last two swingouts I think I just lost it and started whipping my head and poor Dax had to hang on. hahah.
Sometimes the choices I make end up looking really awkward but it has been one of biggest learning tools I’ve had this last year. I find it completely empowering to be able to not just follow or lead but be able to drastically change the way you move your body to fit your partner and/or the music and/or your mood.
So, wrapping this tangent up, I’d like to encourage people to not be afraid to dance ugly. To not be afraid to be completely technically wrong, and to be more open to the various possibilities your body can experience in the name of fun!
Sorry for the delay! Dax and I have made it back to Los Angeles and have been enjoying the rest time way too much! Now that I am back to work (blogging), I want to share with you our experience at Smokey Feet a few weeks ago!!
This was the first year Amsterdam had a big international event….and when I say big, I mean SURPRISINGLY big for a first year event. First of all, let me explain briefly about Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a city built on mud (and you can see with all the falling buildings) and covered in water canals. It favors pedestrians and bike riders. There are more bike riders than cars! It is also very liberal (prostitution and weed is not punishable by law). Oh, and the shopping!
Dax and I spent a whole week in Amsterdam on a mini vacation. One of my favorite moments was siting outside our favorite cafe, people watching over cappuccino’s. It’s good we left when we did because we would have spent all our tour money!
Okay, on to the event! First of all, the best band of the weekend was on the first night. (Swell Rhythm Combo! I checked out there myspace and it sounded NOTHING like their live music)
Another highlight was the students. There were so many fresh and enthusiastic students. Everyone was open and willing to learn and that’s a teacher’s dream come true!
It was also a pleasure to work with the other teachers lined up:
Todd and Nina
Gontran and Moe
Ali and Katja
Thomas and Alice
I sincerely respect and am inspired by all of these dancers. For me, this was the first time working along side Nina and getting to know her more made the weekend even more special.
Lastly, I want to give props to the event promoters, Praveen Raghuraman, Quinten Kray, and Sarah Wastiaux. They took care of Dax and I. We had a perfect place to sleep for the week, they fed us like no bodies business and sincerely tried to make sure we had the best experience. It paid off! I was so excited they asked us to come back next year. Here are some personal pictures of our time in Amsterdam (you can see event pics on their facebook page) and a video from the teacher’s cabaret (Todd unfortunately had to bow out of the cabaret because of his knees).
If you are free Sunday May 22, we are teaching a workshop in LA which you won’t want to miss!
We like to keep it simple. No class titles, no frills and gimmicks, just 100% pure GETTING BETTER AT LINDY HOP.
Would you like to know more about how we teach and run a workshop? Read this page.
Sunday, May 22, 2011 3:00PM-7PM
Cost and Pre Registration
Pre Register: $60.00 , At the Door: $70.00 ($10 discount for RhythmJuice Premium Members and Students who took our last workshop here in LA.)
LiveArts LA 4210 Panamint Street (on the corner of Eagle Rock Blvd.) Los Angeles, CA 90065
We look forward to see you there!
Dax & Sarah